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Deputy sheriff raising money for law enforcement memorial

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By Randy Patrick

Five law enforcement officers in Nelson County have died in the line of duty since 1926, and a deputy sheriff is leading an effort to make sure they are honored for their sacrifice.

The black polished stone monument on a white stone base will be at least five feet tall and be located in front of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and the Bardstown Police Department.

On the front, it will have an engraving of an angel coming for a fallen officer and the words: “In memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our community.” On the back, it will have the names of the deceased and the dates of their last end of duty.

“There’s five families who lost a loved one, and I think they deserve the respect of being honored and remembered every year,” Deputy Brandon Bryan said.

Bryan said he got the idea of honoring the officers and researched who they were.

The five officers who died while on duty were:

• Deputy Sheriff R. Lee Hagan, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 15, 1926, while looking for moonshine stills in Bardstown;

• Alcohol and Beverage Control investigator William Lee Jones, also an Army veteran, who was assaulted and killed on May 13, 1969;

• Deputy Sheriff William Raffo Wimsett Sr., who died in a vehicle accident while driving to the Sheriff’s Office on May 6, 1972;

• Constable Hamilton Ferguson Sr., who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Dec. 2, 1984, after making a DUI arrest;

• and Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis, who was shot and killed in an ambush on May 25, 2013.

Bryan said he would like to talk with anyone who is a family member of any of the fallen officers. They can call the Sheriff’s Office at (502) 348-1870 and leave a message with their number, and he’ll get back to them.

Bryan said the memorial will also include the names of two K-9 officers, Clint, who died Aug. 15, 2004, and Ellis’ dog, Figo, who died at his family’s home on May 23, 2017, although he had been retired from service after Ellis was murdered.

Bryan said that he wants to include the monument in an area where there is currently a bench donated by Boy Scouts in memory of Ellis and other reminders of officers’ service.

He wants to have it completed in time for the national Police Week memorials next May. Not every officer can take off from work to travel to Washington, D.C., during the second week of that month to honor their fellow officers, he said, so he wants the monument to be the focal point for a local memorial each year.

“It’s going to cost some money,” Bryan said.

He estimated that it will cost between $15,000 and $20,000 to complete the project.

He and other members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 43 in Nelson County have been working with Keith Monument Company of Elizabethtown, which designed and will produce the memorial. And they are planning fundraisers to pay for it.

The first will be a pork chop cookout at Bourbon City Firearms on Nov. 10. For $6, supporters will get a sandwich and chips, and FOP members will deliver orders of 10 or more in the Bardstown city limits.

Once the FOP gets a gambling permit, it will also raffle items, including a Henry Law Enforcement Tribute Edition lever-action rifle and a bourbon barrel bench donated by local merchant Buddy Gulden.